The drinking prowess of countries like the United States, Germany, and England is notorious. But it seems that even in this respect, a key economic rival has usurped all three.

According to Quartz, the Chinese now drink more alcohol per year on average than developed countries with more renowned boozing cultures. The publication points to a recent paper published by U.K. medical journal The Lancet, which summarizes how the cash flow from the country’s growing middle-class has lead to an increase in drinking.

Here’s the catch: More than half of the country’s citizens abstain from alcohol use—42% of men and 71% of women above the age of 15 in 2010—so the vast majority of the imbibing comes from a smaller subset of the population. Those who do drink consume an average of 15.1 liters of alcohol per year. Compare that to the United States’ average, and Chinese citizens who drink down almost two whole liters more than Americans.

Photo: Quartz

Photo: Quartz

As The Lancet notes, this is a problem. While the country has made inroads in addressing the health issues that arise from smoking tobacco, it has left alcohol abuse “largely neglected.” And it might be people’s jobs—and even the government—that are exacerbating the abuse.

Today, drinking with clients and colleagues is seen as vital to career advancement. Some job advertisements highlight “good drinking capacity” as a potential requirement for their candidates.

There are many news reports that heavy drinking has become a part of official duties for some civil servants and officials, and, in one study, a fifth of Government employees in a Chinese city were found to have fatty liver disease due to heavy drinking.

One way the country could decrease consumption? Tax booze more heavily. The paper notes that several tariff and tax increases have led to decreased consumption, while chopping them led to increased consumption.

Your move, China.

[via Quartz, The Lancet]